Guess Who Moved to Lyon? + A useful computer term in French
La Colocation: Jackie's house-share in Lyon is featured in the evening news!

"Bisettes"- a favorite new word + photo essay with family updates

La ciotat winter
End of winter in La Ciotat. By the way, have you ever wondered how to pronounce the name of our town? Listen to the sound file and find out....

I loved the French word bisette the moment I learned it and am using it now in email endings in place of "amicalement" (unless you are the IRS or some such other). See an example at the end of this post. 


    : kisses
synonyms for bisette include bécot (peck) and bise (kiss)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

My goal is to write one essay per week chronicling our family life in France. But how to pick among the many little happenings both meaningful and dull? It isn't that our life is exciting, it's that when I look back decades from now I hope to have captured the right fragments de vie--enough to ignite more memories.

This may be why I ditched today's essay on sourdough starter . Levain! While the topic has enraptured my mind, I'm betting it isn't something you (or Future Me) are passionate about. So for today, I've decided to do a photo essay instead--and update us all on my family. Let's begin with Chief Grape...

Jean-marc puzzle
Jean-Marc. This his favorite T-shirt and doing a puzzle...Do you remember when we called him "Chief Grape"--after he took on his first vineyard? Two vineyards and one wine shop later, my husband is still pursuing wine, c-à-d, he is doing a little bit of export and offering personalized wine tours (contact him at [email protected] if you are interested in a wine tour). Jean-Marc is also excited to be making more wine in 2023 via two more Ephemera wine projects in France.

Max taking some plant starts
Max. Our 27-year-old swung by this week to dig up some plants from our garden to use chez lui. Jules and I helped Max transfer irises, rosemary, a baby aloe vera, and an avocado plant into these terracotta pots. Next, our aspiring green thumb invited Mom and me back to his condo, which Jules could not stop raving about. She loved the couch. She loved the kitchen. She loved the dining table. And she would love to babysit the place next time Max is out of town. Hint, hint, hint, if you're reading this Max....
Max and kristi march 2023
My firstborn and me.

Neptune plant
Jackie. Our 25-year-old is settled now in Lyon. She's finished the first week of computer school and is finding her way around. Jackie spent the cash Jules gave her on this lively plant which, désormais, will be called "Neptune" (after Jackie's interest in outer space. The unfathomable size of space is comforting as it puts life's stresses into perspective, according to J.).

 Jules a.k.a. Mama Jules or Mom is doing a little better after overdoing it. These flowers are for her. Mom's recent walk turned into a chase when she tried to help an errant photographer capture the right model (a certain exotic pedestrian and her prize dog who slipped the photographer's notice and were now halfway to the Vieux-Port). But by the time Jules caught up to the would-be mannequin it was too late--the spontaneous moment was lost, and the photographer was long gone.). Now Mom is recovering in bed, dreaming of her own camera. I think Jules would be an excellent street photographer. Don't you?

Kristi in garden with lili
Getting some vitamin D with Lili the cat, and enjoying the "tidy" part of our garden after JM and I carried hundreds of buckets of gravel, over the past week, to this area of the jardin. Now to keep the leaves off of it. (The wine barrels will be used to grow tomatoes.)

I hope you enjoyed today's photo update (or maybe an essay on yeast would've been more to your liking?). I leave you with my new favorite French word and hope you'll get a lot of use out of it in your emails or internet correspondence. I'm off now to geek out over some sourdough starter. It's like a whole galaxy in a jar!

Grosses bisettes,


A galaxy in a jar. It is amazing how flour + water = levain, or sourdough starter. I love the idea of "harvesting yeast" from the air, from the flour, from who knows where. In only 4 days the flour/water fermentation was active enough to use in some bread dough and the resulting loaf was delicious. (photo from a previous go at sourdough)

Follow me on Instagram or here on Facebook to ensure you are receiving the weekly posts (which don't always end up in your emails--owing to filters, a full inbox, and other issues beyond our control). Thanks for reading and on with the French word for the day... 

Listen to the following list via this audio recording:

Click here for the audio file

La Ciotat = a town near Cassis, in southern France
bisettes = kisses
amicalement = yours
le bécot = kiss, peck
la bise
= kiss
les fragments de vie
= pieces of life
le levain = starter, sourdough starter
(c'est-à-dire) = that is to say
désormais = from now on
le mannequin = model
grosses bisettes = big kisses


Tourterelles mama papa french dove birds
Jules's wild doves, Mama (left, with the white feather on her left wing...) and Papa. 

Lili napping on chair
Lili the cat having a siesta on the side porch, near the shoe rack beside our front door.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Anne Jewett

Enjoyed the pictures!

Elaine M.

Loved the photos & family update.

Cindy McD

Kristi I have always enjoyed your photography as well as your writing… tu es une artiste. Bisous

Suzanne in NJ

Thanks for the update and the pronunciation of La Ciotat! The new area of your garden looks wonderful.

Anne Umphrey

Jules would be a good street photographer. “Will be”, is already. She has the “eye” as they say. Any camera will do. I’ve taken up street photography in my retirement. My favorite camera and most used is my iPhone. Not obtrusive like a big camera is. It is most fun to walk along the street and make pictures. It is amazing what you see when you open your eyes to just look. Also a great way to meet people. Most folks are happy to be your subject when you approach them just to chat. Then a photograph follows naturally.
Kristi, you have the”eye” too!

Kathleen Bidney

Thank you for the pronunciation of La Ciotat. I must master it for my next visit. I love the update and photos of the family and your unique shoe cubby. I like Max’s apartment and can understand why Jules would love to apartment sit. I like Jackie’s coats and plants, but it would have been great to also see her.
I too love to do jigsaw puzzles. I and 3 friends are going to join a competition where we have 3 hours to complete a 500 piece puzzle. It should be interesting.
Thanks for the update. Bisettes, Kathleen


Lovely update AND I happily await your sourdough updates :-)

Having just received a scoby from a friend (to make Kombucha) I’m also about to embark on this new creation… sour dough is next on the list!
I would love a secret French recipe for one … the French make fabtastic bread. And pastries. And wine. And well, if there was ever just one reason to move to France, food would be it for me!

Diane Heinecke

I love when you write about everyday happenings and especially updates on the family. All the photos are great, especially the one of you where you introduce yourself; you're wearing a beautiful smile and a straw hat. Sunny you!

K.J. Laramie

The audio file is such a treat. JM has the perfect voice. All your well-composed photographs add so much to your wonderful storytelling. Loved this slice of life!
(Is signing with bisous just bigger kisses?)

Stacy Lund

Kristi, I enjoyed this photo story of your life as we approach the tail end of winter. I especially love seeing you relaxing in the sunshine in your beautiful yard. I'd like to join you there for a piece of sourdough and a long chat. I hope Mama Jules is feeling better. Enjoy the sunshine! Love, Stacy

Jan French

Love the photos and family updates! Would have loved a post on sourdough starter as well!

Ms. Laraine Lippe

Thanks for the update....really enjoyed your photos and comments! Brava!


Bonjour, Kristi,
Je me demande si vous écrirez une histoire qui parle de Jackie et sa nouvelle vie à Lyon. Si oui, j’ai trouvé l’adresse de L’Atelier de Soierie: 33 Rue Romarin 69001 Lyon. +33(4)-72-07-97-83. Ce petit musée est très intéressant. Désormais, La Ciotat, est notée dans l’autobiographie de Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain. Dans le chapitre trois, The Harrowing of Hell, il a écrit:, «. . . La Ciotat, under its sugarloaf rock. Tired, I sat on its jetty and contemplated the moon. ». Amitiés, Joanne

Judi Miller

Thanks for the “family album.” I always love photos. And, I have to admit I know nothing about “getting, buying, making?” a Sour dough starter. Would look be any info. Bisettes. Judi

Barbara Stephano

Chère Kristi,
j’aime le panorama de la Ciotat - le ciel nuageux et la mer avec les couleurs différentes bleues.
Bisettes, Babette

Carolyn R Chase

LOVED! getting caught up on the family. And your photos and comments were great. I'm glad your family is OK with becoming part of ours, through your posts.

Leslie in Oregon

Thank you for the updates on your family. Is Lili now part of your family? And one question about kisses in French: what is the difference between bisettes and bisous?
Hoping Jules is feeling better!


I really enjoyed the update. Best wishes.



Love the photos. Isn't "Grosses bisettes" sort of an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp"?

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
This is such a pleasant, uplifting read. Love
learning about everyday life in France!


As always, Kristi, I love looking at your beautiful photos of your beautiful family! D'accord, Jules would be a fantastic street photographer and should most definitely explore that new interest. :) I also really like your idea of writing a weekly essay about your family's updates, how ever simple or mundane they may seem. Although I no longer publish a blog, this is something that would be interesting to do for my own family's records. Also, I would love to read an update about your sourdough experimentation. I'm intrigued.

Bisettes xx



I loved seeing and reading about your lovely family. I’m certain Jules will be a great street photographer. Are the doves the ones who fell from the nest or the parents? Best to everyone. I’m back in Antibes and will definitely call on JM for wine tours the next time I have guests and possibly for a day or overnight trip with friends here. Grosses Bisettes

Eileen Burns

OK, who did the wonderful painting in the first photo? (BTW: the mimosa and the husband are wonderful, too!)....MUCH LOVE....And I love this format! Eileen Burns

Kristin Espinasse

Jules painted it. 💕💕


Mimosa is in season! We're is Saint Raphael for a couple months and have loved the the Fete du Citron in Menton and the Route de Mimosa all along the coast. Daffodils are in bloom as well. Shirt-sleeve weather today as well (Sunday March 12), great for going to the outdoor market.

Julie Farrar

Merci pour l'update. I made a note of JM's new adventure. Although I don't know yet when or for how long we'll be in France, it might entice Brad to check out your part of the country. I've been trying to get my husband south of Burgundy for a long time.

barbara michels

Wonderful photos. I once knew a lady in Denver whose name was Bisette. She owned a restaurant downtown.

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